Gardening with Laurie: Watch out for the monarchs

By Laurie Garretson
Oct. 25, 2012 at 5:25 a.m.

This is the time of year when you just don't know what season the weather will be like on any certain day.

One day can be cool and humidity-free and the next day, temperatures are back in the 90s with humidity that you can almost cut with a knife. Such is Texas weather.

This is also the time of year when the monarch butterflies are migrating through Texas on their way back to Mexico. As they travel south, they will stop to feed on nectar and lay their eggs on milkweed plants.

If you happen to have any of these butterfly plants in your gardens, be on the look out for these beautiful butterflies.

You want to encourage them to do all the feeding they can while in our area. Imagine how much energy it takes for a butterfly to fly all the way down to Mexico.

Be careful not to spray any type of insecticides that would harm the butterflies or their caterpillars.

As temperatures cool down, all of the cool season weeds will begin germinating. Have all flowerbeds and gardens well mulched to help with weed prevention. Any bare spots in the lawn will also be prime locations for all types of weed seeds to germinate.

Spreading compost on the bare soil (to deter weeds), along with fertilizing the grass, will help to strengthen the grass and encourage it to spread and cover all the bare areas.

When replanting containers with cool-season annuals, it is not always necessary to replace all the old potting soil that is in the container.

If the existing soil looks good, go ahead and replant in it.

If the existing soil looks compacted, try blending in some good compost and organic fertilizer.

If you do decide to replace all of the old soil, dispose of it in your compost pile.

If you have a potted poinsettia or one of the holidays cactuses growing outdoors, leave it there, if possible, until it forms buds or blooms. These plants will typically grow better outdoors, but certainly can be brought indoors to enjoy for the holidays. Never leave them outside when a freeze or frost is predicted.

With the cooler temperatures, it will not be as important to water as often as you were during the summer.

Many plants, including your lawn, will be able to go longer between waterings. Sprinkler systems should be adjusted to the cooler-weather changes.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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